Here’s a thought on personal social media management: Don’t wear out your welcome.
Wearing out your welcome is easy to do. Think Cousin Eddie.
Remember your mom or grandma giving you that same advice about not wearing out your welcome when visiting friends in high school or college? Or when sitting in the hallway (covered in shag carpet, most likely) talking to your high school sweetheart, the lone house phone cord twirled around your finger seven times, cutting off circulation? Or when staying with relatives no more than three days out of town? No? Oh… well, my Gen X and late Millennial friends will get me on that one.
Sometimes we have a hard time reading other people. Why?
Because miscommunication just happens.
Think about the worst two or three job interviews or dates you’ve experienced in your lifetime. Chances are, miscommunication played a part in your misery. You might have HATED the interviewer or felt the role was a terrible fit. But did you communicate that clearly on the front end? Or at the point of realization? Maybe not… so it kept going. It may have created a horrible situation, albeit comical in retrospect.
When your wants and needs don’t match with the person’s wants and needs on the other end, there’s a good chance someone is going to walk away feeling hurt, disgruntled, annoyed, or at best, flattered but disinterested.
Miscommunication and marketing misalignment happen face-to-face as well as online.
You feel you hit it out of the park–yet your potential client never returns your calls. You think your initial meeting went SO well. You were sensing great energy. You gave your spiel. And crickets for days…
Or you’re so excited to share about your friend or colleague’s newest business venture, just to help her get off the ground. So you reach out to your network. You send invitations to a few hundred of your contacts on a social media platform. And only three of them accept. You feel disheartened. To make matters worse, a few of them change their settings, disabling you from sending future invitations to “Like” or “Follow” Pages. You’re offended! It’s not like you sent them an email chain letter six times in a row, right?
Remember what your mom told you 20 years ago about wearing out your welcome?
Same applies to social media management in the personal realm.
It is not JUST about wearing out your welcome or overusing personal influence within your network. It’s about the bigger picture of miscommunication and misalignment of mission or brand.
Here are a few common reasons for miscommunication and misalignment:
- We make assumptions.
- We love our friend’s business. Shouldn’t everyone we love? We don’t mind receiving 5-10 invitations to Like or Follow Pages per day. Why would anyone else? We love hearing about others’ business ventures when we scroll through our personal news feeds (not on LinkedIn, which is a professional networking site… I’m talking about personal social platforms, i.e. Facebook and Instagram). Why wouldn’t everyone else want their feeds full of this stuff? Reality: They are not we.
- We communicate using only words (channel-lean communication) and hope our entire intended message is coming across clearly, concisely, and powerfully.
- Spoiler alert: It’s not. Unless you’re a professional writer or marketing expert, it’s just not. This is one reason I am offering some free tips at the end of this article. So keep reading.
- Our non-verbal message doesn’t match our words.
- Too often, especially when we’re interacting face-to-face or over the phone, our voice tone, facial expressions, and gestures simply don’t match the words we say.
- Our previous behavior, mannerisms, tone, or online brand doesn’t match our magical transition into the upbeat unicorn we’ve become.
- In short, we’re not trustworthy experts or representatives. ‘Nuff said.
- We’re selfish, or we’re afraid, or we’re egotistical.
- Or all of those things. And when those things fuel our messages, we’re setting ourselves (and the receivers of our messages) up for either miscommunication or worse.
- We don’t think clearly or carefully about our target audience, the audience’s needs/wants, or how to reach them well before hitting “send.”
Right now more than ever before, we’re all utilizing social media and digital marketing like crazy (and if we’re not, we better be… more on that in this video). This means we need to be more mindful than ever before about how we utilize social media, even personally.
Many people have previously used social media as a simple tool for connecting with friends and family members. This is fine–except when these same people attempt to use social media professionally or mix their personal and professional worlds on platforms intended for personal networking, it gets messy. Their online followers become confused (and sometimes annoyed) by the cacophony of content suddenly streaming in their feeds. It can be difficult to discern a person’s true identity in terms of predictability. Unless you know a person well and have known the person for years, you might find the new onslaught of invitations to like business Pages, recommendations to try products, and dozens of private online sales parties a turn-off.
How can you practice mindful social media management practices on personal social media profiles?
How can you show support to your friends’ businesses while avoiding miscommunication and misalignment?
- Before asking friends to support a cause, “Like” or “Follow” a friend’s business or Page, etc., PAUSE.
Consider this. Let’s say you are connected to 1,000 friends, family members, and colleagues on Facebook. How many times can you persuade them–realistically–to consider your opinion and take it to heart? How many times will they act based on your recommendation? Odds are, not many. Use your influence sparingly and wisely.
- Take action offline.
It’s wonderful to write, post, and rant about how much you love a business or nonprofit organization. But have you gone offline? Have you purchased a product or service from that business? Have you volunteered, served, or sponsored? Bought a gift card lately? Dropped by to check on the owner?
Put actions to your words. Rather than invite others to Like and Follow her Page, post pictures of you supporting her business–drinking a coffee she brewed, donning a necklace she handcrafted, or mailing a gift card she signed. Your post is a little more subtle. But it’s more effective because you will be promoting the product or service while indicating your direct support, too.
When you shove something down someone’s throat, chances are, that person’s going to choke… not taste it.
- Spend more time planning posts than you do posting.
This is what mindful social media management is about. If you’re considering writing or posting in support of an organization or business, PAUSE. Wait at least 24 hours. Think about HOW you can best support that organization or business. ASK the owner: “Would a meme, a video, or a text-only post best support you right now?” or “Would it help you more if I invited five of my carefully chosen friends to Like or Follow your Page, or would it help you more if I wrote a recommendation of your business on Google?” Rather than selfishly selecting what is easy for you to do, do what will help your friend more.
Here are some ways to show support of businesses and organizations you love.
Some of these suggestions require more than clicking a button online. But these suggestions matter to business owners and nonprofit leaders. They matter because the outcomes of these actions make a big difference.
- Write recommendations on social media, Yelp, Glassdoor, or Google.
- Host a mini fundraiser for a nonprofit organization you love.
- Volunteer. Even if it’s a one-time gig, your time is invaluable.
- Donate goods, services, or products.
- Create videos endorsing your favorite business or nonprofit.
- Be funny. Create hilarious memes featuring your favorite product, service, or employee.
- Send snail mail. Write a thank you card to the business owner or leader. Actions like these boost the spirits of hard-working people more than you can imagine.
- Spend your money. If you are able, support the business you love financially. Eat at that restaurant. Purchase a handmade coffee mug. Consider hiring a local lawn care expert.
If you feel guilty after reading this article because you’ve mismanaged social media for way too long, that’s good! That means you’re ready to grow and improve. Let me know when you’re ready to change–I can help.